Thursday, October 29, 2009

Oh, The Horror!

Was watching CNN on Thursday.

This dude Jack, don't know his last name, was ranting about that gang rape in Cali. (Which reminds me. Does anybody know when it became cool for anchors to stop being objective? Rick Sanchez is freaking ridiculous. I was just wondering.) You know the incident where a 15-year old girl was raped by nearly a dozen men.

Anyway, Jack was pissed because according to police, folks stood by and watched the girl get raped, and some might have even joined in. Jack tied the actions of bystanders in this case to the failure of witnesses to come forward in the Derrion Albert beating incident in Chicago. He then wondered when we became a nation that watched while people were raped and beaten.


Might I refer CNN to the Lynching era and Civil Rights Era of American history.

From my vantage point, Americans have been pretty good at ignoring rapes and beatings for some time, especially when those rapes and beatings involved black folks getting brutalized by white folks.

For centuries, black people were severely mistreated and abused by a portion of the white population, while the majority stood on the sidelines and said "Not my concern."

See, while I believe racism was pervasive in the past, I understand that its most brutal aspects weren't things discussed out in the open. That's why the Klan and other domestic terrorism organization handled much of their business at night, and why they liked to wear disguises. That allowed the general public to pretend they didn't know what was going on, or who was responsible.

But, they did.

They saw the people of this country being mistreated and they turned their heads. They watched women being beaten and raped, men being castrated and lynched and sometimes they even cheered. They cheered and had picnics.

I think what happened to that young girl is horrible. I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy. But, as I've said before, this rush to pretend that what's happening today has no parallel in history is ridiculous. Humans have been the same savage creatures since we were created.

This ain't nothing new.



Darth Whitey said...

Truly sickening. I do wonder if I had been an adult in the 50's if I would have stomached what was going on. I'm pretty squeamish and dare I say compassionate so I doubt it, but would I have had the courage to stand up and say something? I don't know. And according to Philip Zombardo of the Stanford Prison Experiment, there's a good chance even that I might have participated even. And so would you if you had been white.

BTW this is slightly off-topic I know but I watched the most fascinating documentary on the French channel (TV5Monde) the other day about black African slavery. To my surprise, it seems that colonies from all across the American continents were hardly the first or even the worst offenders thereof. Apparently the Arabs had quite the horrific record, and also slavery was a huge bounty at play in all the wars between the African kings before foreigners ever got there. Africa wasn't some peaceful paradise or nuthin, same as the American continents before the Euros got there, all sorts of horrific wars among tribes n stuff. The Arabs continue having black slaves to this day. It's amazing.

No no it wasn't trying to minimize or excuse what happened in the Americas and such (the French are quite guilt-ridden let me tell you), but just to enlighten on the history of it all. It was mostly African professors and scholars talking about it n all, and how these facts are most unwelcome. Even white scholars dislike the topic. Did y'all know this?

Big Man said...


Yeah, I knew about black slavery and ARab slavery.

Why you think they have so many Muslims in Africa? Cause Islam was spread by Arab traders and conquerors who had no problem enslaving Africans.

And I knew about African slavery, although my understanding was the the basic humanity of the slaves was never questioned as it was in America. They were slaves and they might be treated badly at times, but the were still seen as humans, not chattel.

Finally, I doon't put it past me to behave that way if I was white. Humanity is humanity at its core. Race is put on top but we all have the same motivations at our core.

LisaMJ said...

Your post was on point. You are right, and I hadn't thought about that aspect. That poor, poor girl. THey should put those dudes UNDER the jail.

Also, good response on the slavery thing. Everything you wrote lines up with what I've heard too. Also, it is my understanding that somewhat like the Greeks and Romans slaves could perform tasks other than physical or manual labor and housework and could be utilized for their intelligence and skills. Not that it is better, but much further along the way towards recognizing their humanity. Being a slave at anytime anywhere would suck. We humans are some sick puppies.

LisaMJ said...

Oh and you've been a wee on the quiet side of late, Big Man. Hope all is ok.

Darth Whitey said...

Yup yup, no disagreement there. Ever see "Apocalypto"? Awesome.

Darth Whitey said...

Actually now I'm curious about something. Why is there never attention paid to the whole Arab slave trade? You'd think that as a nation that fought a bloody civil war to end slavery and subsequently elected a black president (albeit not a descendant of slaves), that we would turn our attention toward that. I mean the history of slavery in the Americas has been studied to death and yet we know nothing about how it was just one piece of a much larger picture.

MODI said...

Ok this discussion, the premise, and the Stanford study reference has got me in my social psychology mode, so please excuse if I sound wonky here, but the nature of group behavior is probably the most interesting topic in the world to me.

BM, even if you were to pull out the examples you mention relative to history of American racism, there are many like examples. The famous Kitty Genovese murder in the late 60s (or 70s?) was a perfect example. Something like 30 people heard screaming and witnessed the murder, but no one called the police.

Part of it is the concept of "the diffusion of responsibility". If you get into a car accident, you are more likely to be helped if only one car passes by than if 100 did. And the concept has many variations depending on the factors.

MODI said...

Darth, many times I have played the "would I have been a slaveholder" game had I been born in the deep south in the 1700's. Or "would I have supported the woman's right to vote" when most men didn't in the 1800s? Or would I have been a willing fan at The Colliseum cheering on the Roman Gladiaters??? Etc., etc. They are important hypotheticals to consider.

Statistics say that most in privileged groups would just go along to get along. A lot of it has to do with another group psych phenomena: "the just world hypothesis" which basically says that we (moreso dominant groups)are basically hard-wired to believe that the world we are born into is -- with warts and all -- generally a just world. And if it weren't a just world than other masses would surely notice. So the average white slaveholder in 1790 is like "who am I to question the leadership of george washington and so many others" (assuming they are morally questioning it at all!)

The emotional "just world hypothesis" is so intrinsically powerful that it just replaces all regular brain activity.

Now I can't rule out 100% that I would have been a slaveholder because I can't predict to what level that I would have been brainwashed if say I was born into a family where it was custom. Of course, I would like to believe not. But I think that a decent way to predict whether someone would follow the social norms of a different day is how easily they conform to the messed up social norms of the current day.

To the slaveholder question, the closest thing we have today is our criminal justice system and our draconian "war on drugs" policies going on over 30 years now. Well most white americans do not actively oppose these policies no matter how racist or harsh the mandatory minimums or the disparity between crack-cocaine. Your slaveholder population starts right there.

By the same reverse crystal ball concept, if you are a big MMA fan, your like-minded ancestors were probably cheering on Roman Gladiators pretty wildly. While hating MMA, but being a big boxing fan, I can't say 100% where I'd be.

Deacon Blue said...

Darth, the history of slavery, current and past, is certainly important on a global basis. But let's face it: Most of us here are U.S.-based folks. The slavery (and repercussions thereof) of blacks in the U.S. (and the greater Americas) is what it salient to many of the problems of race in this country right now. Picking to death the sins of other nations does zero to move toward reconciliation in this nation, to somehow balance the still very-skewed scales of justice and fairness, etc.

That doesn't mean the issue you bring up isn't important, but I'd rather see us clean up our own house before we keep going out and continuing to try to clean up others'

Darth Whitey said...

I agree Deac, but it's just odd that we don't even know about that other stuff. It's like how feminists never say a peep about the plight of women from Africa to southeast Asia.

Imhotep said...

Darth, like Big Man pointed out, The Arabs have a long and varied history with Northern Africa, and yes it did involve slavery. Slavery by it’s very nature is despicable, but it’s at least worthwhile to know the differences between European slave trade and the Arab trade. At their peak the trade was separated by 600 years. The Arabs did not go into North Africa looking for slaves, their venture into the continent was actually for trade purposes looking to acquire salt, spices, precious metals, if slaves could be negotiated in the deal then so be it. But unlike the Europeans the Arabs never ventured into the continent strictly for slaves. OTOH, Europeans were all about the human cargo. The Arabs did not go looking for life long slaves to build their cities and towns.

Unlike the European model, a slave in the Arab world could actually move up into society (primarily based on skill or talent), history suggest that it was very common for African slaves to end up in military, and in many cases distinguishing them self in battle and attain high ranks. The significant difference between the European slave trade and the Arab trade, is that a child fathered in an Arab/ Slave relationship took on the class of the father, whereas with the Europeans the child took on the class of the mother. So when Thomas Jefferson fathered children with his slaves, those children would be born into servitude. In the Arab world that same child could become king.

There are Black and White scholars who have written about African history, and have covered the Arab slave trade, so there is material available. If you limit yourself to Africa and slave trade, you do yourself a tremendous dis-service, African history pre-dates Christianity, Islam, Judaism and the Arab slave trade, by at least 5000 years. White folks like to say that Greece is the cornerstone of western civilization, but where did the Greeks get their knowledge? Lots of hush surrounding that question.
Here is a link I hope you find useful, tip of the hat to “stuff white people do”

Darth Whitey said...

Very good comment imhotep, and the link is amusing. I shall like to repeat my disclaimer however, since I sense I am being accused of defending or attempting to minimize the European slave trade. Not at all! Such is the peril of even bringing it up I guess.

Deacon Blue said...

It's not necessarily that you're minimizing it, but as with so many things in life, there is so much people SHOULD know about, but it's a big world, with too little time to absorb it all. And so, aside from people who have a lot of time to study widely diverse things or who are paid to be scholars, it's just too hard to be versed on a ton of things, or even mildly informed about everything.

So, I think the focus should be on getting history and sociology to tell to truth within a nation first. Until that is done, there can only probably be a fairly cursory discussion of wider global topics.

That's not an accusation that you're trying to deflect things...just my opinion that until we can tell the truth about our own histories and own up to what WE have done (and start fixing it), the histories and situations of dozens...nay, hundreds...of other countries needs to be a back-burner item.

It's true that people with a cause (feminists, race relations folks, environmentalists, etc.) will tend to focus on certain things and "ignore" others. But that's not always wrong or bad. If you take on too much at once, you get nothing done. And if you're already spending a lot of energy trying to get people to listen to your core message, can you really afford to devote much time to add new ones and further diluting attention to what you are trying to do?

Tit for Tat said...

It's true that people with a cause (feminists, race relations folks, environmentalists, etc.) will tend to focus on certain things and "ignore" others.(Deacon)

Makes you wonder what kind of people make sites with names like this?

Like really, does this help when we lump people into categories because of their skin? Hmmm, dont they have a word for that?

Darth Whitey said...

For some reason that site's name doesn't bother me at all and in fact I spent a good 90 minutes last night reading the posts and wow, I must say, the writer(s) there are very talented and very insightful. Good stuff. Some stuff goes a bit too far but overall it's on the mark, I think.

But yea Deac, I'd just like to see a bit more balance. I get tired of being demonized sometimes when I (well, whitey) has acknowledged what happened and taken responsibility for it (even though my family emigrated long after it happened) while other societies do neither of those. Japan for instance still refuses to acknowledge their systematic atrocities committed in all their occupied territories, especially Manchuria and Korea. What they did is arguably worse than what the Nazis did, what with their medical "experiments", comfort women and all. Yet again, nobody cares.

I am a fan of moral relativism, to some extent. I like getting credit for what I get right sometimes instead of only getting hammered for all the things I get wrong. I know that for the victims of American racism it's difficult to feel any sympathy. You do have to give whitey some credit for electing a black president for instance. What other mostly white society could this happen in?

T.A.N. Man said...

"Like really, does this help when we lump people into categories because of their skin? Hmmm, dont they have a word for that?"

The American Way

I mean for real, in every area of life, we (Americans) are looking always for a way to predict the behavior of people groups, and the most common predictors seem to be race, religion, socio-economic status, education and geographic location. We lump everyone into groups, make broad generalizations and stereotype groups regularly. While this behavior has many down sides, most of the conclusion drawn are based in truth at some level.

As a non-white American, I've been forced to observe and absorb "the things white people do," as a prerequisite for moving around in mainstream America--as I would think most non-white Americans have been. As such, while lumping behavior based on race is a component of prejudice, racism, etc., it is also an inevitable off-shoot of being born American, or assimilating to the American Way.

T.A.N. Man said...

Big Man,

"Watchin CNN" ... mistake #1--I learned that one the hard way. It's a surefire way to end up yelling at the TV and searching for a constructive outlet convey the rest of the story. Dude's name is Jack Cafferty (The Cafferty File). And I have yet to get an email posted on his show, though I'm not surprised.

The other day, I watched a story on "boy play"--South Asian boy dancers/sex slaves who perform for men at parties and such. I couldn't help but wonder why a discussion of Greek and Roman pederasty didn't warrant at least a quick cite at the end of the story.

Big Man said...


Folks around these parts avoid the truth about Greek and Roman society like it's the damn plague.

They have the nerve to have us studying Roman and Greek mythology and history in school, and then complaining about the evil influences of rap music.


Tit for Tat said...

The American Way.........

Very similar to the Romans, and like them on the way out.

Raving Black Lunatic